City Council approves Do Not Self Deploy city agreement

Corryn Brock, News Editor

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The Charleston City Council approved a Do Not Self Deploy intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Charleston and Mattoon Tuesday evening.

The agreement will make it so that if a disaster occurs, volunteers will not come to the area without being asked or qualified to help in a disaster.

Volunteers should not enter a disaster an area unless they are affiliated with an established organization, the sit has been deemed safe to volunteer in, volunteer opportunities have been identified, positions have been assigned but an established volunteering organization and volunteers are wearing the proper safety gear.

The resolution was brought to the council by the Coles County Emergency Management Agency, according to Mayor Brandon Combs.

Combs said while the volunteering is admirable, the work volunteers do can be difficult.

“When things arise there’s always an impulse for people to want to go out and help others who are suffering and that is very commendable,” Combs said. “However volunteering inside certain disaster areas can become dangerous.”

According to Combs spontaneous volunteers were once thought of as a good idea for counties and municipalities in times of need, but they do not always work out the way are intended to.

“The push now is to eliminate these spontaneous volunteers and work more with service groups,” Combs said. “There are some problems with spontaneous volunteers and quite a bit of positives with working with these specific service groups.”

Combs said the CCEMA would be looking for volunteer organizations for times of disaster.

Combs added the agency would be in charge of controlling the affected areas after disasters to ensure people are fit to volunteer.

The council also approved a resolution obligating local funds to resurface and stripe the Lincoln Prairie pedestrian and bike trail. It spans 12.9 miles in between Charleston and Mattoon.

Curt Buescher, Charleston Director of Public Works, said the funding will come from both cities.

Charleston will cover $70,000 from Charleston charitable and Mattoon will cover the remaining $130,000.

The council also approved permanent easement for Ameren Gas and Ameren Electric so it can continue to provide services to the city.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].